Sunday 13 June 2021

Less doing, more being

I had a list, again. A list where I wrote with big, scrawling letters VACATION GOALS on the top, before listing everything I wanted to *achieve* during my highly anticipated time off. 
Another fucking to-do list, made for a time I had specifically set aside to get the break I've been looking forward to with an urge bordering on desperation. Ironic, isn't it?

Luckily, I abandoned that list on day 1, because doing nothing scheduled felt so incredibly good, I wanted more of that. So I said "fuck it", balled up that list and have just been listening to my gut for the last 5 days. 

Okay, no, that's a lie. While I have been doing only as I please, the list is still sitting on my desk, looking at me reproachfully as I'm typing these words, because I haven't been able to bring myself to throw it out quite yet. Maybe, in a few more days, I could try to cross at least a couple items off it ...?

Yes, it's a problem. But that's how I've been operating all my life. I'm a list writer. I wrote lists for summer break as a kid, listing one time to "get up at 8 every morning and have a shower", because nothing screams summer fun like a scheduled wake-up call, right?

Nobody ever thought it weird that I felt the need to plan and schedule all my days, even days off. On the contrary, I was applauded for it. "She's the organized, disciplined one," my parents would proudly say. "Chasing your dreams is more important than sleeping," hustle culture tells us. 
"The harder I work, the luckier I get," is a quote I had pinned on my "motivational quotes" Pinterest board. (It's not there anymore.)

I've been working towards getting away from the hustle culture for the last three years and even wrote a book about it. But, as it turns out, this is an ongoing battle. 
I keep thinking that once you've figured something out, you know it for life. One more thing to cross off life's never-ending to-do list, right?
But time and time again, I get hit by the unpleasant realization that this is completely wrong. 
We are never done.
We will never have it all figured out

We may have had a breakthrough yesterday, but that's no guarantee that we won't struggle with the same demons again next month, or next year. 

It's the most frustrating discovery in an otherwise amazing season of becoming increasingly confident and coming ever closer to the satisfying attitude of "I don't give a fuck". 

My demons are the ongoing quest of "finding my purpose", feeling like I only matter if I work, contribute, and do, and the need to prove myself. 
Like most of you, I was taught that I'm only worthy when I'm hard-working, and always try to improve myself. 

That expectation lives rent-free in my head, and I have a hard time shaking it off. 
So, that's what this staycation is for. I try to be instead of do, but boy oh boy, it does not come easily to me.   
My fingers are itching to write down "meditated for 10 minutes today" (which is something I usually do), to add the latest book I've read to my list of "books I've read in 2021", to make note of every walk, every yoga practice, every word count if I wrote that day. 
Maybe it's not wrong, but in my case it's used as proof that I didn't "waste" today, and that mindset is a cage. It's a cage that I've been imprisoned in since I was very young, and that I need to escape. 

My goal is to be free of those voices in my head. I want to feel just as good about myself on a day where I didn't achieve anything than I do on a day where I was productive. 
I want to be able to come back to work after vacation proudly, even when I have no obvious achievement in my pocket, and not feel ashamed. 

I want to learn to just get up with zero expectations. To go with the flow. To have no list. To just hang. My husband is a master at this - he lives in the moment every day, especially now that he is retired and has no work requirements anymore.  
It is extremely difficult for me. Everything inside me - my upbringing, social conditioning, and my own unique make-up that's very goal-oriented - is fighting against it. I will never be someone who can lie on a beach for 2 weeks and feel perfectly happy, and that's fine. 

But I need to learn to relax more. To not measure every day by all the things I accomplished that day. 
To be okay if a day was a truly lazy one, with NOTHING done. 

It's a work in progress. But I'm working on it! 
Two more weeks of staycation left to devote to it, and the rest of my life after that 😊


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